Feta cheese was a must in my breakfasts and snacks before I came to the North America. In my first couple of months it was the thing I missed most. Finally I found some feta cheese in Oriental markets; however, those were usually expensive. Before leaving Turkey, I did not even think about making feta at home. It was plenty, and cheap.
The production of cheese dates back to 8000 BC to 3000 BC to the nomadic Central Asian tribes. Traditionally, an enzyme produced from the stomach of cows or goats is used for the production of cheese. Recently, the recombinant DNA technology is used to produced the enzyme, rennin.
I prefer the later type. In my first couple of trials I used the rennet pills, which did not work as well as the rennet in solution.
Preparation time: 4-8 hours for fermenting and 5-6 hours for draining.
- 1 gallon of whole milk
- 1 tsp rennet
- 1/4 cups of water
- 1/2 cups of milk powder (optional)
- Boil the milk for 15-20 minutes, until some of the liquid part evaporates.
- Let the milk cool down, stirring frequently to prevent the surface layer formation.
- Once the milk cools down to about 90F-30C, mix in the milk powder.
- In a small cup dilute the rennet with the water.
- Mix in the rennet to the cooled-down milk and stir the mixture for about 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the milk to the fermentation container and cover the container with blankets like making yogurt.
- Keep the milk under this cover for 4 hours (summer days, when the temperature of the environment is high) to 8 hours (when the temperature of the environment is low, also add an extra blanket if the place you are making yogurt is below 60F-15C).
- Uncover the lid and cut the mixture in cubes.
- If the mixture is still milky, boil for about 5-10 minutes. If the mixture is solid, you can omit this step.
- Transfer the mixture to a drainer container covered with a cheese cloth and drain the liquid (whey). Save the whey for future usages. Recently I replaced milk, yogurt or sour cream in recipes with whey.
- Once the majority of the liquid is drained, place a weight on the cheese and drain the remaining liquid from the cheese. During the draining process keep the cheese refrigerated.
- Prepare a brine, mixing salt and water, and keep the cheese in this brine until you need it. Alternatively you can cure the cheese with salt by covering it. If you salt the cheese the first couple of days, the cheese will release more water, remove the liquid as the cheese releases it.
- Before using it, wash the cheese with water, and if it is still salty, keep it in yogurt or yogurt whey for a day or so.